Things to Consider When Purchasing an Older Home

Did you know?

If your home is more than 30 years old, your insurance company may require an upgrade to the plumbing, electrical, and/or heating systems in your home prior to providing or renewing your homeowners insurance policy.

Buying an older home

When purchasing an older home be sure to confirm if there is any galvanized steel or cast iron plumbing. Inquire if the electrical service is 60-amp and whether there is any knob and tube or aluminum wiring. Find out if there is a wood burning stove or fuel oil tank, whether they are in use or not.

Talk to your insurance representative to see what your insurance company requires with respect to these items. You may need to factor the costs necessary to replace or upgrade the plumbing, electrical, heating systems or roofing for the home in order to obtain insurance coverage.

Concerns with galvanized steel plumbing

Galvanized steel and cast iron pipes were commonly installed prior to 1950 and have an average life expectancy of 40-50 years. Over time these pipes rust and corrode from the inside out resulting in reduced water pressure and restricted water flow. This increases the risk of ruptures leading to flood damage. Your insurance company will most likely require you to replace these pipes with copper or plastic before they will provide insurance coverage.

Dangers to consider with electrical service

One of the leading causes of fire is faulty electrical systems.

Knob and tube wiring – was used until the early 1950’s. It consists of black (hot) and white (neutral) wires separated by knobs (or insulators) and ceramic tubes. It is considered higher risk as there is no grounding, they are more susceptible to wearing and exposure due to their age and the unintentional contact of the hot and neutral wires may potentially cause an electrical fire

Aluminum wiring - was used primarily in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. Although a good conductor of electricity, it is a much softer metal than copper and can be more easily damaged during installation, repair work, contact with other materials, and change of temperature or moisture. All of these factors make it a higher risk to result in fire.

Heating systems in the home

If not installed properly, wood-burning stoves can pose serious fire hazards. To reduce risk of a fire have the stove inspected by a WETT certified technician and be sure the stove meets the current standards for use. It may require updates or removal before insurance coverage can be placed on the home.

Fuel-oil tanks that are 25 years or older are highly susceptible to rusting, deterioration, and leakage, each of which is considered an environmental hazard. If a fuel leak goes undetected, the environmental cleanup can be significant. For example, a pinhole leak of 750 litres within eight hours can result in cleanup costs of up to $15,000. Most insurance companies will only insure tanks less than 25 years old and require an inspection be completed by a certified Technical Standards and Safety Authority (TSSA)

Shopping for a home is an exciting time for you and your family, be sure to call your insurance professional during the process to make sure you are asking all of the necessary questions to secure insurance coverage on the home and keep your family safe.